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Endeavour Rolled Out As Rescue Ship

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the two-for-the-price-of-two dept.

NASA 110

stoolpigeon writes "The space shuttle Endeavour was rolled out to Launch Pad 39B yesterday. Space shuttle Atlantis is already at Launch Pad 39A, being made ready for the STS-125 mission to repair Hubble. We recently got a look at some behind-the-scenes photos for this mission. Endeavour is now in place to act as a rescue vehicle if there are any problems with Atlantis, once they are in space. This is the first time one shuttle has been prepared to act as a rescue vehicle for another. If all goes well for STS-125, Endeavour will move over to 39A to be used for STS-126."

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That's confidence... (0, Troll)

josquint (193951) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084351)

Are they expecting the thing to flameout?

Re:That's confidence... (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084465)

I think all the missions since the Columbia accident have been to the ISS. (I could be wrong - just going by memory) And when they go there they have multiple options for getting back, other than the shuttle they took to get up there.
 
When Atlantis goes to Hubble - if they have a Colombia repeat - with damage to a wing or something- they will have no way to come down safely. This gives them one option.

Re:That's confidence... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084499)

I know the media is latching on to this, but if you look at the mission articles in Wikipedia since Columbia, there has been a "rescue mission" for EVERY flight. It seems that the only difference here is that this rescue mission is set to go at a moment's notice while other rescues would take some weeks to set up (as ISS is available for the rescue shelter).

Re:That's confidence... (4, Interesting)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084775)

One other thing that is cool about it - in a purely subjective way - is that this is the last time 2 shuttles will be out on launch pads at the same time.
 
To get the full impact of this, one really needs to drive out there and take a look. Any time any of them are out there is just incredibly impressive. I know I've become pretty used to looking at pictures of the shuttle but every time I'm out at the space center or the wildlife refuge - I'm just blown away by the size of it all. This is all rather subjective, but it's still a big deal to me.

But not the first time... (4, Informative)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086753)

STS-35 and STS-41 (yes, that long ago) were two shuttle missions that had its shuttles out on pads at the same time as well. Pictars:
http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/mirrors/images/images/pao/STS41/10064404.jpg [nasa.gov]
http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/mirrors/images/images/pao/STS41/10064405.jpg [nasa.gov]

Sadly they did not launch together.. now that'd be quite the sight.

Anyway, I'm hoping to see lots and lots of awesome imagery of this setup, as it will indeed most likely be the last time we'll be able to see this again outside of Hollywood.

Re:But not the first time... (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087049)

It's my understanding they've had 2 shuttles out at the same time - 17 times prior to this, but that this is the last, and the only time it was for the purpose of an emergency plan. Of course this is all stuff I've read on news sites - so any of it could be wrong. I don't work for NASA or have any inside info. on just what is going on.

Re:That's confidence... (0, Redundant)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084895)

The ISS wouldn't help, one of the major reasons they were considering scrapping the Hubble is because the shuttle can't make it to the ISS "safe harbour" from the Hubble orbit.

Re:That's confidence... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085519)

That goes to show what a little grammar error can do to understanding. Put another way, whether the GP was right depends on what your definition of the word "is" is.

I think the GP intended to use the word "was".

I know the media is latching on to this, but if you look at the mission articles in Wikipedia since Columbia, there has been a "rescue mission" for EVERY flight. It seems that the only difference here is that this rescue mission is set to go at a moment's notice [because ISS is not available] while other rescues would take some weeks to set up (as ISS was [not is] available for the rescue shelter [in earlier missions] ).

Re:That's confidence... (1)

Derlum (216320) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087443)

That's what parent was trying to say. Hubble is nearly twice as high as ISS to minimize ambient light from Earth, clearly too much of a difference for the shuttle to have even close to enough delta-v to transfer, even assuming the inclinations were the same, which they're not. Hubble's orbit is essentially the maximum service altitude for the shuttle.

Re:That's confidence... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088955)

Not only that, but if nothing goes wrong, Endeavour will have a "regular" mission.

Unless and until something goes wrong with Atlantis, Endeavour is just a "potential" rescue ship, IMVHOTYVM.

- RG>

In other news (1)

ypctx (1324269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087145)

Two burning shuttles tailed by a big space telescope hit the LHC, causing a massive disruption in the very fabric of time and space.

One faulty space truck to rescue another (1, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084359)

I understand the reasoning and the chances are reduced with a double failure but there's something perverse about using the same inherently flawed vehicle as a rescue crasft should anything go wrong.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084469)

we'll remember that next time your car breaks down and come and rescue you with a Piper Cub... or a Cushman Golf Cart... or something else essentially different from a Car.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085007)

There is no escape from the car analogies.

Resistance is futile.

You will be Simile'ded.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086047)

The big difference is that in space there is no opportunity to walk home.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (2, Funny)

type40 (310531) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087459)

The big difference is that in space there is no opportunity to walk home.

sure there is. Just watch that first step.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (4, Funny)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084543)

Apparently two wrongs do make a right.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084581)

And the superior rescue vehicle they're going to use is...?

I mean what do you think they did when a Huey went down in Vietnam?

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084721)

Pay the Russians to get a Soyuz ready? Although it might take two trips...

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (5, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084905)

Pay the Russians to get a Soyuz ready? Although it might take two trips...

The orbital inclination of Hubble is 28.5 degrees (essentially due east from Kennedy Space Center). The Soyuz pad at Baikonur is too far north to reach that inclination without doing a plane change, which takes more propellant than Soyuz carries.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085151)

He did say it might take two trips.

One Soyuz couldn't get there but two, flown serially, certainly could.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (3, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085257)

He did say it might take two trips.

One Soyuz couldn't get there but two, flown serially, certainly could.

I think the extra trips was referring to the number of crew members onboard the orbiter (since Soyuz only has three seats, and really you do need two people to fly it).

I don't understand how flying Soyuz "serially" is going to get it to 28.5, if you could elaborate. The amount of propellant to do that kind of plane change is enormous, even the shuttle (which was designed do a lot of maneuvering) is only capable of doing a couple of degrees.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085375)

ah, they can fit em in, they just need to go chinks in a mini.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

rpj1288 (698823) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087171)

Mod parent up! He knows what he's talking about!

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (4, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088071)

I don't think the Soyuz would have been a very good vehicle to rescue helicopter pilots in Vietnam.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084845)

Which part of "inherently flawed" do you not understand. The grandparent is not questioning the logic of having a rescue mission. It is questioning the logic of having a craft, which; on the basis of the last several counts; has a one in four chance of needing a second rescue mission. What if we end up with two broken shuttles in orbit? Would the Russians even have enough Soyuz craft to perform a rescue? Assuming 3 crew on the original shuttle and two rescue crew, on the next one, you would have five Americans to rescue. Each Soyuz could take two people down, so, if you could have only a single crew member in them you would need three Soyuz craft for the rescue. That seems like alot to me?? Assuming that you pretty much immediately launched one rescue craft, filled with as much spare supplies as reasonable, that would leave thre Americans surviving in two shuttles. How much chance of a complete rescue? How much would it cost?

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

DougBTX (1260312) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084705)

If the rescue craft was safer than the shuttle, they'd be using the rescue craft to get up there in the first place...

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087235)

Not necessarily if the rescue vehicle didn't have enough cargo space or was substantially more expensive to operate. Of course there is no alternative vehicle they could use at the moment so the point is sort of moot.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088103)

Perhaps they should go with a smaller craft for carrying people and a larger craft for carying stuff. They could also simply both by using a capsule for the crew and a disposable cargo trailer for the larger cargo items. I'm sure they could probably re-use some of the good parts of the shuttle like the SRBs and a large portion of the main fuel tank.

Re:One faulty space truck to rescue another (1)

jacklebot (620766) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085215)

I must disagree. There is nothing any more inherently flawed about the shuttle design than there is about a car, and we send those to rescue themselves all the time. I would say bully for them having that docking technology in place for these sorts of rescue missions.

Direct link (5, Informative)

Kagura (843695) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084361)

Direct link for the photos, since it's not actually in the article: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/09/preparing_to_rescue_hubble.html [boston.com]

Also, karma whore.

Rescue ship (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084525)

Maybe they can rescue the declawed gerbil from out of your asshole.

No it isnt a coincidence I picked a karma whore to reply to.

Re:Direct link (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084541)

Dude that's some of the best nerdporn ever. When I realized those two cylinders the size of the dude's torso were turbos, I nearly had to find a towel.

Space Camp didn't have as good photos as the Globe dug up.

Re:Direct link (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084927)

And here's the link to the NASA source [nasa.gov] which skips the "registration required" Boston Times. Sorry, New York Globe. No, wait, Boston Globe. I always get those two confused since they're (literally) the same damned paper.

AC so as NOT to karma whore.

Re:Direct link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085009)

... which skips the "registration required" Boston Times.

It doesn't require a registration. Just click the GP's link, and the article with pictures shows up on a single, long page. The images are really amazing.

Re:Direct link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25086159)

Then you haven't tried to read a story on it recently enough. You get something like five minutes free before it demands registration. After that, it's registration required.

Try reloading the link, you're probably locked out by now, I know I am.

Maybe its NASA's entry... (2, Funny)

josquint (193951) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084369)

in this [rocketracingleague.com]

Tow Truck? (3, Interesting)

stevedmc (1065590) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084371)

That is about as weird as a two truck towing a tow truck.

Re:Tow Truck? (4, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084447)

Which is exactly what you do if a tow truck breaks down.

Re:Tow Truck? (2, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087303)

How is it that the guy repeating your point got +5 Insightful and you get bupkis? The mods work in mysterious ways.

Re:Tow Truck? (0, Troll)

stevedmc (1065590) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088359)

The mods don't like me because I have expressed in the past that I believe in God. It is called discrimination.

Re:Tow Truck? (1)

JLF65 (888379) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088945)

The OP had poor spelling. :)

Re:Tow Truck? (1)

stevedmc (1065590) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089381)

Dang i feel like a more on.

what is it going to do ? (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084385)

Hook up and pull them if they get stranded ?

Collect the bits in case the original craft explodes ?

This makes very little sense to me, admittedly I don't know very much about rocketry but the few times that things went wrong a rescue vehicle would have only compounded the problem, not mitigated it. If there still is enough of the original craft left to do something about the astronauts then sending up a similar craft sounds like a pretty dumb idea, first you'd need to figure out the cause of the problem before sending up an identical craft.

Better to rely on the russians for a rescue mission. Of course that would not do, to depend on a foreign power in times of distress...

Re:what is it going to do ? (4, Informative)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084439)

Hook up and pull them if they get stranded ?

Actually yes, that's the idea. The concern is that the ever so fragile titles may be greatly damaged ala Columbia, in which case someone needs to come pick up the astronauts stranded in Atlantis, because it can't be flown back in to the Earth's atmosphere and it can't be flown to the ISS. Since the Columbia incident all missions have been to the ISS or to a point in space where you can reach the ISS. This is not possible with the Hubble mission, it's too far away for the shuttle's limited fuel supply.

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

Whiteox (919863) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086915)

Where are you going to find an additional 7 seats?
Even if you can pilot a rescue shuttle with 2, where's the standing room?

Re:what is it going to do ? (2, Interesting)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087197)

Put a crew module in the cargo area?
The rescue mission doesnt have a payload to fill it anyways...

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089987)

That would be a great idea if we had a man-rated crew module that fit in the cargo area.

By the time we designed, built and qualified the crew module, it would be too late to help Hubble.

Re:what is it going to do ? (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084441)

This is in case there is a problem on launch that allows Atlantis to make it to orbit, but it is too damaged to safely return. They would launch Endeavour to join Atlantis in orbit, they would use the robotic arms to pull the two vehicles together and then transfer crew from one to the other.
 
  This msnbc article on it [msn.com] has some more details. I'd have linked that article for the submission - but I didn't see it until later, and the NASA site didn't have a permalink for their page on it at the time.

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084443)

I believe it is related to the recent problems with the shuttles where they've noticed problems that could (and did) result in disaster on re-entry. In such a situation it's probably nice to have a backup shuttle to be able to rescue the crew of the damaged shuttle.

That said, I've always wondered why it isn't standard procedure to have a sort of "rescue capsule" ready for launch during shuttle missions. I suspect cost is one of the reasons...

/Mikael

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084485)

that makes some sense but because the two craft are equal in design the chances that the second shuttle would develop the same problem are actually higher than if the first one did not have a problem...

I really don't get the logic behind this, but presumably nasa has some very smart people working for them and they know their stuff.

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084617)

I don't see an alternative. As far as I know, there is no other spaceship (something not Space Shuttle) available they could use as a rescue capsule.
Actually, I hope I'm wrong. So please, tell me I am.

Re:what is it going to do ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084653)

They should be able to get a Soyuz capsule up there without any significant problems, if there is one ready to launch.

Re:what is it going to do ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085463)

A Soyuz capsule cannot reach the correct orbit based on the location of the launch site.

Black Ops (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088483)

There are black ops craft but they'd let a shuttle and the astronauts fail before they would admit to having them. Think about the geeewhizz factor for what rutan does, now realize the government was doing that better in the *50s*. Now realize there has never been a time where they weren't at least three generations ahead in what they admitted to having publicly. The lag for disclosure time is measured in decades.

Re:what is it going to do ? (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084769)

If the odds of a specific problem with a shuttle occurring are 1 in 100, the odds of it the same problem occurring on TWO shuttles at the same time is 1 in 10,000, not 1 in 100.

You're taking for granted that once a problem occurs, the odds that "it could occur" are no longer 1 in 100, they are 1:1 because it HAS occurred. In other words, the odds of a double failure pre-launch is 1:10,000. The odds of a double failure, once you HAVE a single failure, is 1:100. Until the single failure occurs, the odds remain at 1:10,000.

Shaky stats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25087585)

Think of a fair six sided dice. You rolled it 5 times. You got 4 four times and 1 once.
 
You would say your odd of getting a 4 as oppose to 1 on a fair dice is 4:1?

Shaky stats indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25088545)

First:

think of a fair six-sided die. You rolled it 5 times. You got 4 four times and 1 once. You would say your odds of gettin a 4 as opposed to 1 on a fair die are 4:1?

You've got to do better than that.

Now, the problem with what you're trying to say (ask?). In your example:
a) all 5 rolls have already happened, so they're no longer in question. This is different from asking what the probability of future events is.
b) the die is a fair one by your own definition. To state that an n-sided die is "fair" is to state that the probability of *each* outcome is 1/n.
c) your statement that a moderately improbable set of outcomes has already been obtained (namely, a-a-a-a-b) is a canard (in light of (a) and (b)). Knowledge of the specific outcome of an event is only useful if you don't already know from other analysis (the symmetry of the die, the homogeneity of the gravitational field affecting it, etc.) the probabilities involved.

Suppose the probability that an event occurs is 1/100. The probability that it happens twice is (1/100)*(1/100) = 1/10,000. If one of them has already occurred, there is only one future event; only one event whose probability you must estimate.

Your example accuses the poster of incredibly poor math, and it's hard to fathom how you could attribute it as a corollary of the reasoning he gave. The probability of getting 4-4-4-4-1 on five rolls of a fair, six-sided die is the same as getting a-a-a-a-b. You're accusing the poster of thinking:

"Let's forget it's a fair die with six sides, remembering only the two sides and forgetting the other four. The conclusion is that the probability of getting a 2, 3, 5 or 6 is zero on any roll, and the probability of getting a 4 is four times more likely than getting a 1."

You don't have a clue about probability, how to think about it, or how to calculate it, and your English is terrible. I suggest finishing the last 4 years of your secondary education, and 4 years of post-secondary education, working on your composition skills, and studying elementary probability, the "gambler's fallacy", the "inverse gambler's fallacy", the "three prisoners problem", and the "birthday problem". Throw in some formal logic too, and pay special attention to the forms of fallacy, both formal and informal.

Re:what is it going to do ? (3, Insightful)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088465)

If the odds of a specific problem with a shuttle occurring are 1 in 100, the odds of it the same problem occurring on TWO shuttles at the same time is 1 in 10,000, not 1 in 100.

You're taking for granted that once a problem occurs, the odds that "it could occur" are no longer 1 in 100, they are 1:1 because it HAS occurred. In other words, the odds of a double failure pre-launch is 1:10,000. The odds of a double failure, once you HAVE a single failure, is 1:100. Until the single failure occurs, the odds remain at 1:10,000.

The point the parent is making is that if a particular problem occurs then it might mean that the design has a previously unknown flaw that makes that problem more likely than original estimates. So pre-launch the chance is 1 in 100 for each shuttle, which makes 1 in 10,000 for both. But if the first shuttle develops the problem then it might mean that the 1 in 100 was wrong - maybe it's actually 1 in 20. Now you're looking at launching a rescue mission with a vehicle that might have a 1 in 20 chance of failing, and you've got no time to properly assess the risk.

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088809)

If the initial odds are estimated at 1 in 100, and there is a failure, the appearance of the failure does not affect the odds of another one just like it failing. It's still a 1 in 100 event.

You may find it necessary to re-evaluate the odds if experience is proving to be grossly different than predicted odds, but experiencing a single expression of an uncommon event should not immediately draw into question the odds of the next occurrence.

If I'm shooting craps, and I know my odds of getting a seven is say, 1 in 4, and I shoot a seven, and then another, and then a third one, what are my odds of getting another seven on my fourth roll? Better than 1 in 4 now would you say? no. Still in 1 in 4 same as it always was. Changing the dice won't make any difference either.

Re:what is it going to do ? (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088893)

If the initial odds are estimated at 1 in 100, and there is a failure, the appearance of the failure does not affect the odds of another one just like it failing. It's still a 1 in 100 event.

You're missing the point. You think the initial odds are 1 in 100. You don't actually know that they are. The occurrence of the event may indicate that your original estimate of the odds was wrong and that the true odds were higher.

If I'm shooting craps, and I know my odds of getting a seven is say, 1 in 4, and I shoot a seven, and then another, and then a third one, what are my odds of getting another seven on my fourth roll? Better than 1 in 4 now would you say? no. Still in 1 in 4 same as it always was. Changing the dice won't make any difference either.

You don't know that the dice are fair. You think that the odds are 1 in 4. But then you roll 3 sevens in a row. Maybe the dice are fair and odds of getting another seven are 1 in 4. Or maybe the dice are loaded and the odds of getting another seven are much higher. The fact that you rolled 3 sevens in a row might indicate that the dice are loaded.

Incidentally the odds of rolling a seven on two fair dice are 1 in 6.

Re:what is it going to do ? (3, Interesting)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084491)

I think the idea is that if on the way up a shuttle sustains the type of damage to the heat shield that ultimately destroyed the last one on the way down, they can send up the rescue craft.

By careful examination of the craft after it gets up there (which they seem to do now) they can ascertain if it is in fit shape to make the journey home, other wise it stays up there and presumably the crew all get into the ISS and wait for the rescue craft to arrive.

Of course if the rescue shuttle is also too badly damaged on the way up then they are screwed.. unless they bring a 'shuttle repair kit' with them.

I was wondering though does the ISS have more than one place to dock a shuttle? Or do they have to somehow undock the damaged craft after the crew disembark and then dock the rescue craft? Or does the whole rescue process happen while both craft are undocked and the crew do a cool space dive between shuttles?

Re:what is it going to do ? (4, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084999)

I was wondering though does the ISS have more than one place to dock a shuttle? Or do they have to somehow undock the damaged craft after the crew disembark and then dock the rescue craft? Or does the whole rescue process happen while both craft are undocked and the crew do a cool space dive between shuttles?

The damaged orbiter is undocked first by remote control from the ground. The crew needs to install a cable to allow the command to open the docking system hooks (which is normally a push button the crew performs on the aft flight deck) to be sent from the ground.

If you really want to see everything in excruciating detail, this NASA pdf has it...
http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/153444main_CSCS_Resource_%20Book.pdf [nasa.gov]

Re:what is it going to do ? (2, Insightful)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088981)

Sorry, I've already commented on this story, otherwise I'd mod you DOWN. In "regular" Shuttle missions, the destination is already to the ISS. If something goes wrong, they have time to wait at the ISS for another shuttle to be prepared and blasted up into space.

The reason *this* mission requires them both to be on the launch pad is because they *can't* get to the ISS, which you erroneously imply that they could. This has been mentioned in many comments, in most news stories, etc., etc.

- RG>

Just want to be able to meet their SLA (2, Funny)

b1rdy (451206) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084537)

NASA are just making sure they're prepared just in case the Atlantis crew break down and call up claiming that they are a lone female with kids in the spacecraft. Don't forget it will be night time wherever they are.

In other news... (1)

barwasp (1116567) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084659)

Astronauts signing new life insurance policy agreements. Insurance company tricked into promising to deliver a rescue vehicle within 20 minutes of accident. ...in economy news... AIG shares fell by 89 percentages

Hmm. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25084673)

Does this rescue plan involve Bruce Willis and a nuclear bomb?

A Political Statement maybe? (1)

You ain't seen me! (1237346) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084691)

Being a bit of a cynic, to me this looks like a bit of a political statement aimed at Russia. After the recent cooling of relations following the issues between Russia and Georgia, it was very quickly stated that the Shuttle may be used beyond its previously stated shelflife. Now putting out 2 Shuttles on the launchpads seems to be indicating that NASA is capable of operating without the aid of the Russians. A foolish ploy if this happens to be the case, as currently NASA just can't compete with either the Russian or European space agencies capabilities.

Re:A Political Statement maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085403)

wow... this is idiotic even for a Slashdot comment.

Re:A Political Statement maybe? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085777)

Or it could be that the only way to rescue a shuttle crew going to Hubble is another shuttle? The Soyuz does not have the room to bring back a 7 man Shuttle crew IIRC. So is it more logical that it is a political dog and pony show or that another shuttle is the only option should something go wrong.

And remind me the track record of ESA doing manned missions again? When was the last time the Ariane rockets put a man into space again? Oh wait, I think all the ESA astronauts have gone into orbit either atop a US or Russian craft.

And yet NASA will complain about their budget... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084851)

Something about this stinks of... something. Corporate profit taking, perhaps.

In any case, considering the small number of situations this could help in, NASA shouldn't be complaining about budget cuts if dropping the billion or more dollars to prep a second launch is considered frugal.

Re:And yet NASA will complain about their budget.. (2, Informative)

cyclone96 (129449) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085039)

The cost is actually far less than you believe. The "rescue" shuttle is simply the vehicle for the next flight (minus payload). It's already going through the normal processing flow to ready it for its planned launch in November. The additional cost to protect for a rescue mission is in the low millions.

Yes but... (1)

Archimonde (668883) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084871)

who will be the rescue ship for Endeavour?

Re:Yes but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085561)

Completely naive idea, posted from someone without any background knowledge, but what about the following:

The endaevour does not need to carry any payload to orbit, it even has a reduced crew. So it should be possible to carry more fuel to orbit. And maybe this extra fuel would be enough transfer endavour from hubble's orbit to the iss after rescuing the astronauts. Then they could wait for the russians to bring them back to earth :)

Possible maturity evident? (3, Insightful)

johndmartiniii (1213700) | more than 6 years ago | (#25084877)

I think that this might be a sign of increasing maturity in the process for making decisions about the space program. It seems, at least a little, a bit more reasonable to prepare a rescue option for missions like this rather than simply strapping on the cowboy boots and riding some crazy contraption out of the atmosphere with no viable hope of coming back, should something go wrong. Even if it is the same type of craft as the one that it would be rescuing, this decision shows some initiative to make the space program into a less willy-nilly operation than it might have been in the past. It is, as has been mentioned above, really the only option for some sort of fall-back plan, should something go wrong on the way up.

Good job NASA.

Re:Possible maturity evident? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085057)

Uh, most of the missions until now have been to the ISS where there are other rescue options.

This mission is going to Hubble.

Besides it's not just a cowboy thing, it costs shitloads of money and manpower to prepare two shuttles. I don't think you realize how much work goes into a single mission.

Re:Possible maturity evident? (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085211)

I think that this might be a sign of increasing maturity in the process for making decisions about the space program. It seems, at least a little, a bit more reasonable to prepare a rescue option for missions like this rather than simply strapping on the cowboy boots and riding some crazy contraption out of the atmosphere with no viable hope of coming back, should something go wrong.

More accurately, it's a sign of the hype and hysteria surround space flight and astronauts that such expensive precautions must be taken - when there are thousands of USN submariners at sea right now with no viable hope should something go seriously wrong. Not to mention the hundreds of people who winter over in Antarctica each year. Not to mention the hundred of scientists and crew at sea on USNS research vessels. (A friend of mine is in the middle of the Pacific right now - hundreds of miles from land and well off the shipping lanes. It would take over a day for a search aircraft to reach them - and most of a week for a rescue ship to do so.)
 
The submariners have rescue vessels standing by, sorta - we were told to expect to wait a week or more back in the 1980's, and our capabilities have declined sharply since then. None of the others have dedicated rescue capability standing by.
 
And that's just the government jobs...

Re:Possible maturity evident? (1, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085753)

But do those submarines have relatively obvious unfixed failure modes the way the Shuttle does? It's one thing to have no protection from unknown problems and rather different to know that there's a problem with a significant chance of killing you but taking no precautions against it.

Re:Possible maturity evident? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087341)

But do those submarines have relatively obvious unfixed failure modes the way the Shuttle does? It's one thing to have no protection from unknown problems and rather different to know that there's a problem with a significant chance of killing you but taking no precautions against it.

Since the Shuttle has no known problems with a significant chance of killing the crew... What's your point?

Re:Possible maturity evident? (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089051)

What's your definition of "significant"?

Given the histories of the Shuttle and American submarines, the Shuttle's chances of a fatal ice/tile incident are much greater than anything that would happen to a submarine, and well into the realm of what I would call significant.

Re:Possible maturity evident? (2, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086217)

Apples and oranges. Surface vessels have lifeboats, for submarines there's the rescue vessels you mention, but until now, astronauts who stranded in space were SOL. NASA said in the past that should this happen, they'd take the next available shuttle and reassemble it as quickly as possible, but they recognized that this would probably be too late. With the Shuttle failure rate being what it is, having a second one on standby IMO isn't responding to hysteria, it's prudent. You'll notice submarines don't have a 1% failure rate.
Also, it's not as if they're wasting resources. The standby shuttle will simply become the next mission.

Re:Possible maturity evident? (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087297)

With the Shuttle failure rate being what it is, having a second one on standby IMO isn't responding to hysteria, it's prudent.

With the failure rate so low, it's responding to hysteria.
 
 

Also, it's not as if they're wasting resources. The standby shuttle will simply become the next mission.

The standby Shuttle has been rolled out weeks before it would have been rolled out for it's next mission - which means it will be exposed to the elements for weeks longer than it would otherwise have been. Before it can become it's next mission, it will have to be rolled back to the VAB to have it's payload installed, and then rolled to pad 39A (it's currently on 39B) for launch - which means all the connections between the mobile and fixed pads have to be broken at 39B, attached in the VAB, broken in the VAB, and finally reattached at 39A for launch. This being a (theoretically) technical audience, I shouldn't have to recap the risks involved in all that extra handling and mating/demating.
 
 

until now, astronauts who stranded in space were SOL. NASA said in the past that should this happen, they'd take the next available shuttle and reassemble it as quickly as possible, but they recognized that this would probably be too late.

And the odds are non trivial that even with a rescue shuttle standing by - they still stand a good chance of being too late. Even with the new, streamlined, procedures in place, it will take 2-4 weeks to get Endeavor off the ground. But the maximum life span of Atlantis on orbit (assuming a failure that is recognized early on, and a subsequent drastic power down) is around 3 weeks. With every day Atlantis is on orbit, fully powered up, the odds of a sucessful rescue drop dramatically.

Re:Possible maturity evident? (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088207)

With the failure rate so low, it's responding to hysteria.

The fatal event rate for shuttle flights is about 2%. Half of those were caused by a known design problem for which there is no implemented solution.

You can bet that if SSBNs were that unreliable, they would either be shadowed constantly by rescue craft, or never launched in the first place absent a national emergency.

That leaves one question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085333)

Who will rescue the rescuers?

Why would the rescue ship be manned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085475)

If I get the article right, a crew of four astronauts is planned for endeavour in case of such a rescue mission.
I'm just wondering why it is necessary to put four more astronauts at risk. As far as I know, liftoff and orbit-insertion are done automatically and don't need human interaction. As soon as endeavour is in a stationary orbit that is not too far away from the damaged atlantis, the rendevouz maneuver could be controlled by the atlantis crew, as well as the deorbit and landing of endeavour.
So where is the need for a manned rescue ship?
And even if I am completely wrong and human interaction is necessary during launch, why are 4 astronauts required? I think 2 astronauts should be enough in any case.

Wondering about the docking ring for Hubble (3, Insightful)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#25085811)

Will it be possible to dock a remote controlled craft to it? If yes, wouldn't it make sense to design one that can move the HST to an orbit with a different inclination so it can be serviced again in a couple of years? There was talk about de-orbiting Hubble safely at the end of its life, so why not "de-orbit" it to an orbit that's close to the ISS?

Re:Wondering about the docking ring for Hubble (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087371)

Will it be possible to dock a remote controlled craft to it? If yes, wouldn't it make sense to design one that can move the HST to an orbit with a different inclination so it can be serviced again in a couple of years? There was talk about de-orbiting Hubble safely at the end of its life, so why not "de-orbit" it to an orbit that's close to the ISS?

 

  1. That would take an enormous amount of fuel, about ten Shuttle flights worth.
  2. A craft to Shuttle between ISS and Hubble that can support a serving mission doesn't exist anyhow.

Move? Why Move? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25085875)

Endeavour was rolled out to Launch Pad 39B ... If all goes well for STS-125, Endeavour will move over to 39A to be used for STS-126.

Why are they moving it? Is there some reason they can't launch the non-rescue STS-126 from 39B?

Re:Move? Why Move? (2, Informative)

toddestan (632714) | more than 6 years ago | (#25088389)

Launch Pad 39B was deactivated as a shuttle launch pad when the number of shuttle missions was slashed, and it currently being remodeled for the Ares rocket. They knew they were going to need 39B again for this shuttle mission, so they presumably left all the hardware in place so it could launch a shuttle if need be, but once 39A opens up again they are going to want to get the shuttle out of the way so they can continue with the remodeling.

Why move it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25086075)

This statement puzzled me:

If all goes well for STS-125, Endeavour will move over to 39A to be used for STS-126.

Anyone have any idea why this is? Is there some reason they can't just leave Endeavour on pad 39B and launch the next mission from there?

Why move Endeavour to pad 39A? (2, Interesting)

hazee (728152) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086165)

If Endeavour is all set to launch from pad 39B in the event of an emergency rescue mission, then why are they planning to move it across to 39A for the "regular" mission?

Re:Why move Endeavour to pad 39A? (0)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086415)

They might make a ding in it.

Re:Why move Endeavour to pad 39A? (3, Informative)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086525)

From this article [msn.com] : Pad 39B, meanwhile, is due to be turned over to NASA's Constellation program to be modified to launch the agency's new Ares 1 rockets. The launch vehicle is being designed to loft the agency's Orion shuttle successor into orbit by 2014 and on to the moon by 2020. The first Ares 1 test flight is set for June 2009.

Trouble with (SG) Atlantis (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#25086403)

I heard it had been cancelled, at least by the SCiFi channel. But maybe they were going to do some DVD movies of it, like they did (ARC of Truth, Continuum) with SG1.

I also heard rumours of a new series - called Stargate Universe, does anybody know anything about that?

no high resolution photos (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#25086607)

Sadly, no-one has ever released a high resolution photo of a double shuttle stack & probably never will.

Beautiful pic (1)

ypctx (1324269) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087099)

http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/detail.cfm?mediaid=37485 [nasa.gov]
evokes the feeling that it's just a viewport into actual field with 100s of shuttles ready to launch, as a sign of civilian space travel gone mainstream:)

Three possibilities! (1)

arthurh3535 (447288) | more than 6 years ago | (#25087123)

"Everything's good! Mission is a success!"
"Crap, send up a shuttle to rescue us!"
"Oh, double crap. We just lost 2/3rds of the shuttle fleet in one shot and crapped out the US Space Program!"

Should've been the norm all along. (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 6 years ago | (#25089949)

The idea of having a 2nd spacecraft at the ready in case of an emergency should've been the norm since the very inception of manned space flight.

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